We should come to our senses and take the holy name
Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakur is one of the great compassionate servants of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In fact he is an eternal associate of the Lord. He personally descended to this world of birth and death to teach all of us how we could overcome the toils and the sufferings of this material world. And here in this most wonderful song Bhaktivinoda Thakur is appealing to everyone to just take the names of Krishna. Whether you are a grihasta or whether you are a sannyasi, you can become free from all the happiness and sorrows of this world only by this process of Hari Nama, the chanting of Krishna’s holy Names. He is explaining that we are all bound up in this ocean of maya and we are forced to toil ruthlessly.
The pursiut of material pleasure is insane
As Krishna explains in the Gita: all people are helplessly forced to do work. Just to survive, just to avoid starvation, terrible disease, too much cold, too much heat, people have to work. And therefore the whole society is like a rat race. Everyone is putting so much of their valuable human energy simply for survival. And beyond survival, for sense gratification. But Bhaktivinoda is explaining that we should come to our senses because this whole pursuit for material pleasure is actually insane. This morning, some very, very wealthy men visited with me; Internationally very wealthy. And they were explaining their studies of the wealthiest people in their world. They are the most paranoid, fearful, suffering people they ever met. And many of them actually die of paranoia. Paranoia means fear and anxiety. Many names we could explain, but what for? It is a truth. Because the proposal of trying to be happy through sense gratification is actually insanity. It simply does not work. Anyone who uses their human intelligence could see that as we attach ourselves to something we are just preparing for a terrible, miserable condition when we have to lose it. And it is inevitable. And the more we have, the more we have to work and strive and offend others just to protect it. The more we have the more people become envious of us. And the more we become envious of others. And yet still we are trying to be happy in this world through material arrangements.
By watering the root of the tree all parts of the tree get satisfied
So Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains that we should come to our senses. And understand that the only refuge is in Krishna’s name. Because Krishna’s name has the power to lift us out of this limited, crippled-minded state of thinking that I am the enjoyer when I am this body. Because Krishna is the Lord of the senses. When we water the root of the tree the whole tree is satisfied. When we engage our senses in the service of the Lord of the senses then automatically we come alive. Otherwise, Bhaktivinoda says, we are as good as dead people; Most unfortunate situation. But the Holy Name of the Lord is the Lord’s manifestation of supreme mercy to bring life again into our hearts. So this is the sum and substance of religion. This is the very purpose of this Hare Krishna movement of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: to distribute the yuga dharma.
harer näma harer näma
harer nämaiva kevalam
kalau nästy eva nästy eva
nästy eva gatir anyathä
To induce people to somehow chant Krishna’s Holy Names. But sometimes devotees become discouraged because although they are chanting, sometimes for many years, still the mind is wandering to so many of the unspeakable dimensions of perverted consciousness. Sometimes the mind, like a untrained child, wants to run everywhere and anywhere away from Krishna’s name. And still pride and envy, sensual desires, remain within our heart. Even after chanting, for so many months and so many years. So sometimes devotees think that if I am not experiencing ecstatic love of God, how could I convince others that the holy name will give them ecstatic love of God. And in this way, devotees lose their enthusiasm to preach. And they start to again take shelter of material enjoyment to find some purpose and meaning to life. But despite all their attempts, they become more and more miserable. Because there is nothing more pitiable than a devotee who has tasted the nectar of Krishna, who tries again to enjoy material sense gratification. Because he simply cannot. It’s so hollow, so superficial, so meaningless.
Materialistic people, they are leading a meaningless life, but because of lack of Intelligence, a lack of purity of the heart, or lack of receiving the mercy of the Lord, they think that this is all in all. So however meaningless it is, they are always trying to somehow or other invent some meaning to what they are doing, and just be content with the hard struggle for existence. But a devotee’s intelligence has already tasted the sweetness of the higher purpose of life and Krishna’s mercy. So a devotee can never enjoy material life again; Simply impossible. He can try and try and try. But it’s all just an empty, foolish show. And they know it. But at the same time, because their faith has weakened, they are in a situation that is very lamentable. But when this situation comes upon us, where we are not tasting the ecstasy of prema-bhakti in our sadhana, we have to take shelter of the knowledge which the previous acrayas have given us: that Krishna’s name is non-different than Krishna. And that if we can once chant the Holy Name of the Lord offencelessly we could actually be liberated from all the sufferings of this world, and gradually as we chant the Holy Name purely, we can experience Krishna within our heart. Devotion, bhakti awakens within us. So Krishna tests us. How does He test us? This life is very short. The soul is eternal and it is wandering through so many species of life.
brahmäëòa bhramite kona bhägyavän jéva
guru-kåñëa-prasäde päya bhakti-latä-béja
And after so many millions and millions and millions of births, by the grace of Krishna, one comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master. And he plants the seed of devotion within our hearts. And that seed may take time to grow. But it will grow if we are simply care for it according to the direction of the scriptures. Srila Prabhupada used the example that if a woman marries a man, she cannot expect to have a child the next day after marriage. Sometimes women very much want to have children. But it doesn’t happen like that. First they have to get to know each other. Then they have to serve each other, respect each other, they have to have a certain amount of confidence in each other, then the act of procreation may take place. And then the mother has to very carefully take care of that child within the womb, for perhaps nine months. And then the baby is born. It’s a very long and difficult process; While you are in the process. Nine months is not very long. But from what I have heard from ladies who have had children, it seems very long. Those nine months seem like centuries. But actually, so the sannyasis and brahmacharis will just see they conceive one day, and the next day they have babies. It’s not very long for us. But for the mother it is very long. Because of what they have to go through in the process.
In a similar way, the spiritual master plants the seed of devotion in our heart, and it takes time through the watering process of hearing and chanting and rendering service to Vaishnavas, to very carefully protecting that seed by following the regulating principles and avoiding the offences to devotees. Gradually it begins to develop. But as it develops, so many weeds will also be coming up, and we have to be very careful to neglect those weeds. Neglect them in the sense that we should not nourish them. Or rather we have to cut them down. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us this process. So as we are hearing and chanting and practicing the principles of Krishna Consciousness, so many anarthas, so many unwanted things will come up from within our hearts. Because they are there. They must come out. Lifetimes and lifetimes and lifetimes of our cultivation of pride, lust and anger and greed, they will all start coming out like weeds in our minds. And even when we are chanting the Holy Names they will be coming out. But we must not act upon them. We must not follow the dictation that these weeds are trying to present to us to allure us away from the Holy Name. We simply keep coming back to the shelter of Krishna’s name. And gradually that spiritual seed, which initially is very tender and very fragile, begins to grow. And then it becomes strong like a tree, immovable.
adho sraddha tato sadhu sangha… As all of our unwanted impurities from our heart are removed, we develop nishtha, firm faith, immovable faith. And then the higher taste of spontaneous devotion to Krishna naturally awakens within our heart. So devotees of the Lord must understand the science of Krishna Consciousness, in order to continue with faith and determination even while we are gradually developing, we want to see quick results. But we are not seeing. Initially we see but after some time sometimes it appears that we are getting nowhere. But actually we have to know that if we are simply following the principles sincerely, in the mood of service, we are making great progress, whether we can see with our own mind or senses, or not. And this we can analytically understand only when we comprehend the science of Krishna Consciousness. This is very important. Srila Prabhupada told us we must read his books, we must understand the philosophy. Otherwise the tendency is to go away. If we are ignorant of how the purification of the heart takes place, how the development of our spiritual attributes is coming about, how the anarthas are being removed, the unwanted desires of our hearts, then we can know with great faith, we can have great determination to understand exactly what is taking place and why. Srila Prabhupada said we must strengthen our intelligence by hearing every day the message of Godhead,
bhaktir bhavati naiñöhiké.
By regular attendance in classes on the Bhägavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact
The tricky mind can be conquered only by the krishna consciousness
Every day we must hear Srimad Bhagvatam. We must hear Bhagavad Gita. We must hear from the devotees of the Lord; Regularly. Because this keeps our intelligence scientifically fixed on the reality of how Krishna Consciousness works. If the intelligence does not control the mind, the mind will find so many faults, will take shelter of so many doubts, because that is its conditioned nature. Therefore we must conquer the mind with Krishna Conscious intelligence. Practically moment after moment within our life. And unless our intelligence is well nourished, the mind will conquer our intelligence. And all of these doubts and all of these illusions will overcome our lives. Srila Prabhupada said faith comes by hearing in the association of devotees. Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami explained how hearing the glories of the Lord and chanting His Holy Names is like food to give strength to our spiritual intelligence. And just like in war, if you do not have food and water, you cannot fight, however big and powerful you are. At one time, the German army was the most powerful army in all the planet earth. They were just this marching forward to conquer the world. And practically no one could stop them. But Krishna; Krishna stopped them.
When the sages in the forests would be having Hari Katha big tigers would come. (Laughter) and no one cared. Everyone would just go on. “Krishna wants the tiger to eat me? Very good. I’ll die hearing the Hari Katha.” But these days in Bombay, even a little kitty-cat comes, and we become disturbed. But anyways, everyone cried out for Krishna.
If you have no nourishment, you cannot fight
So the armies were marching into England, and somehow or the other due to some craziness. Ultimately, it was Krishna in the heart. They decided: England is fininshed. Let’s send half our army to Russia and conquer Russia. So half the army went to Russia. And they were marching and marching and marching… and the Russian army was nothing compared to them. But unfortunately for them, but fortunately for others – it started to snow, and they had no warm clothes. And they were getting food sent to them regularly from Germany, and this snow made all their tanks stop, and their hands could not shoot guns and they were just simply cold, and they were hungry. And because of the snow blocking the roads, noone could get food to them. So they were so hungry – they were literally starving. They had no strength. So then other army came and just shot. They had no strength. If you have no food you cannot fight.
Hearing and chanting is our nourishment otherwise we die spiritually
On the battlefield of Kurukshetra Arjuna became thirsty, he could not fight. So he shot an arrow in the ground and water came out. And thus he was given the nourishment and the strength to fight. So trying to become a devotee of the Lord is a battle against maya, and maya is the strongest. Not in the form of what we see through our senses, but maya is most deadly within our own minds. And in order to conquer the mind, we have to be very spiritually strong. And that comes by getting proper nourishment. And that nourishment is every day, to sufficiently digest, within our intelligence, which is situated within our hearts, the teachings and the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and chanting His Holy Names. shravanam kirtanam vishnu has the power and the strength we have to develop our spiritual intelligence. And then when all these doubts and all of these distractions come, we can see them for what they are. And we can deal with them, and remove them. And go on with our sadhana. Go on with our seva. And this is how we advance in Krishna Consciousness.
Two things to drive maya away – Strong sadhana and avoid vaishnava offence
Srila Prabhupada said, “I have written these books for my followers. Because if they do not need them and do not learn them, they will go away. They cannot survive. And we see that those who succumb to the temptations of maya in the form of doubt, in the form of the feeling that we just can’t do it, we just don’t have the strength, in the form of material temptations, it is generally for one of two reasons. One, they become lazy in hearing and chanting or two; they are making offences to Vaishnavas. I have not seen in all my years a person who has been strong in his sadhana of hearing and chanting regularly and a person who is humbly trying to avoid offences to the Vaishnavas – I have never seen such a person who has done these two things only – lose his spiritual intelligence. But when we become slack and inattentive, then Krishna withdraws His mercy and when Krishna withdraws his mercy we cannot protect ourselves. Maya will conquer us. From within our own minds.
Krishna consciousness is an everlasting unending festival
The science of Krishna Consciousness, as you give Krishna Consciousness to others, Krishna will give you. But we have to be constantly replenishing our own faith, and our own conviction, and our own understanding so that we can give others the right thing. And this process gives us enthusiasm. It gives us a higher taste. It makes Krishna Consciousness dynamic and exciting. Actually Krishna Consciousness is the most wonderful experience in life, moment after moment throughout our life. As Shyamananda Prabhu was explaining in the car on the way here, that Krishna Consciousness is an everlasting, unending festival. It is true. Simply a festival. We rise early in the morning, and then within minutes after we rise, we are dancing. (Laughter) Who else does like this? Most People – they rise in the morning, drinking coffee and tea, they try to somehow or other wake up. And then they read the newspaper. This person died. And this terrorist act took place. And this politician has been caught cheating all of you. So this is how they start their day. And then they either sit in their car. Through the traffic, reading newspapers or listening to news, or they go into a train, where everyone is crushing them. This is how people start their day. They eat something.
Who else does rise in the morning and dance?
Where else do people rise at 4:30 in the morning and the first thing they do is that they start dancing and singing? Krishna Consciousness is ecstatic. You can’t deny it. If you just look at our life, from just completely an unbiased point of view, it is an ecstatic festival every day. We are singing and we are dancing. And then we are running around tulsi. (Laughter) in the American countries, people come into temple… sometimes neighbours, they hear this loud crashling, and then, “What is this? What is this?” and they come in the temple and they see people running around a plant, making all loud music and they think…some people think that “I should also do this. What am I doing? These people are happy.” Other people – they simply cannot understand. And then after that we sit and we bathe our consciousness in the hearing the wonderful, wonderful philosophy of Srimad Bhagvatam. And the association of our families, in the temple, devotees, we are all chanting the Holy Names together. Hari nama japa, then there is greeting the deities, wonderful Guru puja, simply a festival, then Prasad, and then whatever we are doing, we are doing it to spread this wonderful, wonderful mercy of the Lord to others. That in itself is a festival. What more joyful, meaningful, purposeful way can there be?
And even if we are grihastas living outside with all kinds of jobs, just the fact that we have a purpose in life, that we start our day in Krishna Consciousness, we know we are going to end our day in Krishna Consciousness, and whatever we get from this world of hard labour, we are going to offer to Krishna. It’s a festival. Krishna Consciousness is simply wonderful. But maya, through our mind, is constantly trying to take that reality out, and give us entrance again into the land of illusion. We see that the most successful people in this world.
The reality of famous people and the nectar of devotion
Recently Shyam Sundar Prabhu – he was with us. Just a few days before he came to Bombay he was in Vrindavan with one of the Beatles, the lead guitar player from the beatles. He was one of the foremost famous people in the entire world in the 1960’s and early 70’s. They were young men in their early 20’s, they made tens and millions, and millions and millions of dollars. They were famous. They were just adored by everyone. But he was explaining to Shyam Sundar, “Those were the most miserable years of my life. I have been trying to forget that ever happened. The only good thing about the whole thing was that somehow or the other I met with Srila Prabhupada and got to do a little service for the devotees. Otherwise it was all a nightmare. I want to forget it.” And this is what everyone in the material world is striving to achieve. But he is trying to forget. That is material life. Cheaters and the cheated. False promises of maya…she takes your life and then she cheats you.
Therefore we must keep our faith, our conviction in and our determination very, very strong in Krishna Consciousness. and being enthusiastic taking Hari Nama every day and to be humble before the devotees of the Lord every day. Then you will experience bhakti rasamrit sindhu, the nectar of devotion.Hare Krishna!